Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

Creation, discussion, and balancing of game content such as techs, buildings, ship parts.

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Ta'Lon
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#46 Post by Ta'Lon » Tue Feb 11, 2014 7:41 pm

Something that has occured to me while I've been 'familiarizing' myself with the current tech tree is that there is a lot of potential there for various 'pathways' to ship construction.

Currently, we have:
Generic hulls
Robotic Hulls
Asteroid Hulls
Organic Hulls
'Energy' Hulls
Symbiotic Hulls
Sentient Hulls

I've mentioned this before: From a racial design perspective, it might be nice to give certain races affinity for certain hull types.

I.E. Lithic species have an affinity for Asteroid Hulls, and gain small bonuses when utilizing Asteroid Hulls.

These 'minor bonuses for a hull type' could break down along these lines:

Lithic Species - Asteroid Hulls
Photorific Species - Organic hulls
Robotic Species - Robotic Hulls (duh)
Cyborg Races - Symbiotic Hulls
Telepathic Races - hmmm...
'Basic' Humanoid/Organic type races - No specific bonuses, but perhaps some minor 'all around' bonuses to balance. I.E. Jack of all Trades - Master of None.
Ocean dwellers? - Seeing some definite possibilites along the Organic line here...
etc. etc. etc.

Any race could still go down any particular hull design path, but the bonuses for staying 'in their comfort zone' should be a significant incentive. This allows for stronger differentiation between race types, and gives each 'hull design path' a purpose other than just sounding cool.

Sure, each hull design path should have advantages and disadvantages, of course. But before tossing the babies out with the bath water, I really do see some interesting game design ideas just waiting to be realized here, so it bears some pondering...

This also opens up a few new possibilities for 'building prereqs', i.e.:
'Oceanic Organic' ship hull designs can only be built at shipyards on Terran or Water Worlds...

Or, said 'water dwellers' get bonuses when building organic designs at water worlds,
but lesser bonuses when building organic hull designs at other worlds.

The framework of the game has been laid very nicely. I'm already enjoying FreeOrion quite a bit (and this from a Galactic Civilzations franchise fan). Now seems like a good time to think about the bigger ideas, such as races vs technology and such.

My schedule is busy for the next few days, but hopefully I'll be able to articulate this concept better in the next few days. I have some really cool ideas floating around in my head right now!
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MatGB
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#47 Post by MatGB » Tue Feb 11, 2014 7:55 pm

I like the idea, and hadn't realised until playing with it (which I now am as of about half an hour ago) that the Networked Shields can only be built by robotic species, they've not got into combat with them yet but it is a nice little boost (even if the robotic hulls are still ludicrously expensive compared to organics and I'm having to force myself to not just spam organics like I usually do).

Not sure why Phototrophic races should get bonuses for Organic line hulls while Organic races don't (and you've split/conflated a few hull types there, Sentient Hulls, for example, are the end point of the Organic line, which has two sub branches, symbiotic and xenos).

But...

I want to get each hull line broadly balanced and sensible as is with only minor tweaks first, before adding more complications that makes balancing them harder, it's definitely a good thought, but while Organic hulls are de rigeur just to colonise while robotic hulls and similar are still too expensive it's priority to get that balanced off.
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Ta'Lon
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#48 Post by Ta'Lon » Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:09 pm

I was just pointing out the different hull names that are used in that initial list.

The reason I brought up Photorenic as a good choice for Organic is the whole 'use sunlight to grow your own hull' concept. They already have an affinity for sunlight. Not to preclude other races from the Organic line, as it should be available to all.

The 'typical' Organic species example I mentioned was humanoids (us). While the human body could in the future be adapted to 'merge/become part' of an organic hull through genetic manipulation, we need to modify ourselves to get there, or create the organic technology that blends with us... we aren't naturaly predisposed to grafting.

Other species types may be able to graft more easily... or much less easily.

If I WERE to break this down into 'paths'...

Basic Metallic/Composite Hulls
Organic/Grown Hulls
Asteroid/Silicate Hulls
? (Crystalline, etc.)

As for the Organic/Symbiotic line, this line has a lot of potential, with a lot of variables depending on the attributes of the species that crews it.

I think the Metallic/Composite (Robotic) hull line needs some love, in that you may have a race that likes 'humans' to run their ships, not robots. AI-phobia essentially.

I'm trying to envision a broader concept here, which I need to articulate for myself first. I like 'multiple hull design paths' where a species may have affinity with one over the other. This ties in with race design, which goes beyond the scope of this thread, and is also something I'm pondering at the moment (i.e. what makes species different in game terms, other than just a few bonuses). When I work out the details, I'll share what I manage to come up with r.e. suggestions.

The short form is that I like the idea of 'choosing a hull design path, with a lot of intricate branches' as a game concept, where each branch has hulls suited to each purpose (scouting, esionage/stealth, colonization, combat). This is one thing that could differentiate FreeOrion from some other 4x games out there.

The Asteroid Hulls path is actually not a bad example of this, as there are an assortment of hull sizes you can use for various things.

Right now I see MetallicComposite, Asteroid, and Organic as the three paths so far, although I'm trying to envision a fourth of some type (not sure what that would be).

Crystalline maybe? You don't need an asteroid belt to grow crystals...

Also, I like the idea of 'add 1 external slot, or add 1 internal slot to your current hull design' as tech choices. This way you don't have to make new artwork every time you add a weapons slot to a current design...

Each hull path should start with a small, medium, large, and 'utility' design when you start down that path, with larger designs becoming available later. That being said, perhaps an empire may not HAVE metallic ship tech, but start with Organic designs instead...

Or you start with smaller Asteroid hulls instead, as perhaps metallics are scarce on a world, but there are an abundance of space rocks available (via a ring around the homeworld). Not quite an asteroid belt, due to the lack of larger rocks available, but 4 slot or less designs to begin with. This empire would have a 'leg up' on asteroid belts, being a tech or two closer to developing larger asteroid hulls, but they would need to develop 'metallic/composite' ships tech if they want to go down that line - something many/most other races will already have developed at the beginning of the game.

Along these lines, a world 'special' might be 'no metals readily available' - no metallic hull designs may be built at the shipyards here.

This would only work if the three (or more) hull design trees are balanced beforehand of course, which continues to be evaluated with the current structure.


Also, while not directly related to ship parts, I was thinking about refueling when ships leave their supply lines and exhaust their fuel tanks. Perhaps the 'recharge rate' could be tweaked based on certain species types,

i.e. Photorenic species with Organic hulls have variable fuel restocking rates based on the star type they are at.
Example (numbers subject to change of course):
Starless - SLLLLOOOOOOOWWW,50% penalty to recharge rate.
Red - +5% recharge
Yellow +12% recharge
Blue - +25% recharge.

The presence of a Gas Giant could increase the refuel rate of all hull types as well (readily available Hydrogen to harvest).

Lithic Species refuel faster when inferno and/or barren worlds are present, and/or if an Asteroid Belt is readily available. You get the idea...

Fuel recharge (to allow you that extra jump every so many turns) happens in the background, so this could be abstracted fairly easily.
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MatGB
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#49 Post by MatGB » Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:22 am

Playing through with the patch and making tweaks to tech tree and costs as I go to make it viable to use the Robotic line instead of the organic line.

And one thing is definitely missing. An affordable, usable, troop carrier unit. One of the reasons you end up putting incubators everywhere is you need troop ships.

I think we should definitely be looking to make it viable to not use organic hulls at all, which means making a viable troop carrying ship—either a new one or retasking an existing one. One thing occurs, large hulls are currently both hideously overpriced and too slow. Buff their speed, drop their price and give them an extra internal slot?

(I'm hoping to have a patch with some work done on various things at some point tonight/tomorrow morning depending on how my current testing goes, FWIW I'm really liking the networked shields as an idea now I'm playing with them, but Robotic Hulls are still ludicrously expensive compared to other hull lines)
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#50 Post by Dilvish » Wed Feb 12, 2014 5:54 am

MatGB wrote:Playing through with the patch and making tweaks to tech tree and costs as I go to make it viable to use the Robotic line instead of the organic line. And one thing is definitely missing. An affordable, usable, troop carrier unit. One of the reasons you end up putting incubators everywhere is you need troop ships.
I don't think I agree about troop ships in the robotic line being an urgent problem -- I find the spatial flux hulls work pretty much as well for troopers as organic hulls for most of the game. The cost per trooper is about the same, the speed is similar, structure is lower but you get a stealth bonus that is very nice in early game. In late game when you need lots more troops then the fact that you need more of them & therefore have a bigger hit to upkeep might justify some new/adapted hull, but I wouldn't consider it urgent. Once the bombard mechanism is finished it might be a reasonable way to reduce the need for tons of troops.
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Geoff the Medio
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#51 Post by Geoff the Medio » Wed Feb 12, 2014 5:58 am

Dilvish wrote:Once the bombard mechanism is finished it might be a reasonable way to reduce the need for tons of troops.
It's pretty much functional now, I think, other than some quirks with whether bombards stay ordered between turns. It should be possible to order bombards and script their effects.

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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#52 Post by MatGB » Wed Feb 12, 2014 6:53 am

Y'know, it never occured to me to try flux hulls for troops, they look too fragile to me, but they are nice and zippy, I've queued some now. Not sure about it but without testing...

Definitely like the flux hull now, actually useful, but the stealth thing is a bit weird, base 15, -30 if moving? You can't give it stealth parts, so it's either 15 or -15, but -15 is completely pointless. Perhaps make it 35? Then it's visible to all and lowend scanning tech spots it.
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#53 Post by Dilvish » Wed Feb 12, 2014 6:59 am

Geoff the Medio wrote:
Dilvish wrote:Once the bombard mechanism is finished....
It's pretty much functional now....
oh ok -- I don't remember seeing anything more clear about it than this vague description and this recentish statement that it didn't really do anything yet-- could you describe for us what it does now?
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#54 Post by MatGB » Wed Feb 12, 2014 7:05 am

I've been ignoring it, but it would be nice to have stuff like death spores and similar under your control not attack a planet unless you tell it to.

Why yes, I have accidentally wiped out the only Mu Ursh homeworld with my kraken more than once.
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#55 Post by Geoff the Medio » Wed Feb 12, 2014 9:15 am

Dilvish wrote:...could you describe for us what it does now?
See here.

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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#56 Post by MatGB » Thu Feb 13, 2014 4:59 pm

Interesting effect of the Networked Shields, they update for the turn before movement, so if you move fleets in from multiple locations each fleet has their own value for the conflict, if you split a fleet up for multiple strikes they keep their bonus for the first combat in the new system.

Sending a very damaged ship off for repairs means when it returns it comes in with low shields for the first round.

While not exactly as described in the flavour text, I think I like that.
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#57 Post by Chriss » Wed Feb 26, 2014 4:45 pm

Is there any source on ship hull lore besides the Pedia Articles? I haven't found any mention of specific hulls in the design document on the Wiki. I'd like to make a few suggestions on Hulls but I'm not sure what I should've read first.
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Ta'Lon
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#58 Post by Ta'Lon » Wed Feb 26, 2014 9:38 pm

Here's a hull table I put together, in .html format, in a handy .zip file.
Data is as of SVN Version 6913

Let me know if you see any errors guys!
Attachments
HullTable.zip
(49.09 KiB) Downloaded 61 times
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#59 Post by Chriss » Thu Feb 27, 2014 8:39 am

It's a nice list, but what I'd like to do is more like:

* Get a hang on the idea behind a ship hull line - the lore. Currently, I only have a feel for the Organic and Asteroid lines.
* Agree on some defining characteristics for each line which differentiates them. Something like organic growth - for each line.
* Create a Small number of Hulls for each line - let's say 3 for starters. If we stick with Basic, Robotic, Asteroid, Energy and Organic we will have 15 Hulls. I'd say that should be more than enough?

I'd like to get to a point where each hull is really different and adds something to the gameplay that was not there before. Now, it's mostly about cost and number of slots. Later Hulls tend to be bigger and tend to obsolete earlier Hulls. That can and should (IMHO) be accomplished by ship parts, not Hulls.
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#60 Post by Ta'Lon » Thu Feb 27, 2014 12:08 pm

Quote: Chriss
I'd like to get to a point where each hull is really different and adds something to the gameplay that was not there before. Now, it's mostly about cost and number of slots. Later Hulls tend to be bigger and tend to obsolete earlier Hulls. That can and should (IMHO) be accomplished by ship parts, not Hulls.
I've been thinking sort of along those lines. What I'm working on at the moment is to 'move' some of the 'Specific Hull Stats' from the shiplist and to a 'core' part, and adding one core slot to the basic designs (small, medium, standard/large, plus I'm thinking of some bigger sizes).

Said Core parts would determine Starlane speed, fuel capacity, etc.
shipdesignwcores.jpg
shipdesignwcores.jpg (38.98 KiB) Viewed 1442 times
Note the six new core parts (screenshot from my ingame, using new data in the .txt files), which I've labeled in yellow. The Armored Core would be a new concept for FO, that essentially junks the Starlane Drive in favor of more structure, plus light bonuses to Detection and Stealth - essentially this allows players to build dedicated System Defense Boats if they wish.
shipdesignwcores2.jpg
shipdesignwcores2.jpg (37.79 KiB) Viewed 1442 times
Here you can see that I've added an Energy Core to the small hull, which has changed it's base stats.


I'm thinking that larger hulls would become available as you research any of four given techs, as you proceed down the various hull tech tree branches; i.e. Military Robotic Control would add a 'Very Large Basic Hull' to your hull list, as might, say Orbital Construction, Organic Hulls, and perhaps Nascent Artificial Intelligence/Force Field Harmonics - any of these four techs would add Very Large Basic Hulls to your list of available Hulls . Still working out the fine points on this concept.

The Starlane Drive Core is how the Basic Hulls get Starlane Drive capability, and this Core Part becomes available with the Galactic Exploration tech/at game start. Robotic Cores become available with, say, Military Robotic Control (and would require an Orbital Drydock or better to build) , Organic Cores with Organic Hulls Tech (and an Orbital Incubator), etc. etc.

I'm envisioning either more cores with various Shipyard Upgrades, or bonuses to existing cores (not sure how to code that). The total number of cores could get a bit high, though...

This 'Core Hull Design' concept I would eventually envision as being a selector on the hull picker, with the various hull sizes appearing (with unique artwork for each hull in each hull type category) when you select a particular hull line. This would eliminate the need for a core hull part to do this job.
shipdesignwcores3.jpg
shipdesignwcores3.jpg (36.32 KiB) Viewed 1442 times
Note the above is a screenshot that I've modified in Photoshop to show how I could see this working. Each of the four tech tree hull branches would have artwork for small, medium, large, very large, etc. hulls, that would appear when you select that hull branch. So you'd have 5 different artwork versions of the small hull, etc.

I'm also thinking that a small portion of the external slots in each hull size could be 'flex' slots instead, i.e. can accomodate both external and internal parts, to allow players to tailor their designs a bit more. Currently the various ship hulls at a given size range have minor differences in the external/internal part mix, that I think drives up the total number of available hulls a bit, where if say the large hull had say 2 external 1 internal and 1 flex slot, you could eliminate a few hull designs; i.e. the 3 + 1 hull designs/artwork could merge with the 2 + 2 designs, with the flex slot covering both configurations.

Core slots could still be used at this point for 'minor hull differentiation'. I.E. adding a Ravenous Core to an Organic hull would add +25 to Detection and +15 to the 'Growth Maximum', but cancel out the refuel and repair/heal bonus. This would allow you to have a small, medium, large, very large, etc. 'Ravenous hull', instead of just one Ravenous Hull. In this instance, you'd have a 'generic' core of some sort to 'fill' the core slots of basic designs on each hull branch, instead of four basic cores (which would essentially drop your core count by 4, reducing clutter a bit). The new 'enhanced' cores (Symbiotic, Ravenous, etc.) could perhaps only appear when you selected the relevant hull category in the hull chooser window, to help reduce icon clutter.
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